Suboxone is the brand-name drug combination of buprenorphine and naloxone used in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUDs).
The symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. Suboxone is used to treat the painful symptoms of withdrawal to ease this process.
The Role Of Buprenorphine
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that blocks opioid receptors. This medication is effective in reducing cravings and preventing opioid withdrawal symptoms.
This is the active ingredient in Suboxone.
The Role Of Naloxone
Naloxone blocks and reverses the harmful effects of opioids. It works by binding to the same receptors that opioids bind to, blocking opioids from releasing their effects.
How Suboxone Works In Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Suboxone is used in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling to treat substance use disorders in medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
While Suboxone is an effective treatment option for withdrawal, it will only work when used in conjunction with treatment programs that focus on the emotional well-being of the patient.
How Long Does Suboxone Take To Kick In?
Suboxone starts to kick in within 30 to 60 minutes after the initial dose. It takes closer to three to four hours for the full effects to set in.
How Long Will Suboxone Work To Block Opioids?
This is a long-acting medication, so the effects of Suboxone usually last on average 48 to 72 hours.
Suboxone will block the effects of opioids for at least 24 hours. For some, Suboxone may block opioids for up to 60 hours.
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Side Effects Of Suboxone
Using Suboxone to treat opioid dependence can come with a number of side effects. Some side effects are more serious than others and should be closely monitored.
Suboxone can cause serious breathing problems, leading to dizziness and slow breathing. If either of these signs manifest, get emergency help right away.
Suboxone is an opioid, and opioids are known for causing constipation.
The most common side effect of Suboxone is nausea and vomiting. This is often due to precipitated withdrawal, which happens when Suboxone is taken too early.
Effects On Teeth
Suboxone is acidic, so it can cause tooth decay. However, even with those who use Suboxone long-term, tooth decay is not very common.
Effects On Weight
Some people report weight gain while using Suboxone. This is because opioids cause water retention, which can cause things like bloating.
Effects On Pregnancy
Using Suboxone while pregnant can cause the fetus to develop an opioid dependence. When the baby is born, he or she may experience symptoms of withdrawal.
Sexual Side Effects
Suboxone has been known to cause sexual side effects, such as decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.
Types Of Suboxone
There are two forms of Suboxone available: tablets and films. Both of these methods of administering Suboxone are effective in treating OUDs.
Suboxone tablets are the pill form of Suboxone containing buprenorphine and naloxone. The tablet form of Suboxone is administered as a single daily dose.
Suboxone films look like small rectangular strips. These films serve the same function as Suboxone tablets and contain the same ingredients.
Suboxone Tablets Vs. Strips: Which Is Right For You?
Choosing between strips and tablets comes down to comfort and preference, both of which are valid and important factors when withdrawing from opioids.
Benefits Of Suboxone Tablets
If you’re considering going with the tablet form of Suboxone, there are a few benefits.
Some of the benefits of choosing Suboxone tablets include:
- lower cost than strips
- less stigma associated with taking a pill
- many people prefer the taste of Suboxone tablets
Benefits Of Suboxone Strips
Suboxone strips are the more common form of taking this medication.
Benefits of choosing the strips include:
- strips are easier to hold under the tongue while it dissolves
- they absorb better
Seek the medical advice of your doctor before choosing between tablets and strips.
Suboxone Drug Interactions
There are a few types of drugs that have the potential to generate serious problems if taken with Suboxone.
Some of these include:
- benzodiazepines and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants
- CYP3A4 inhibitors and inducers
- antiretrovirals, which are used to treat HIV
- serotonergic drugs, such as antidepressants
- sleeping aids
- pain medications
- anxiety medications
Patients using any of the above medications should take caution and speak to a medical professional about the medications when considering Suboxone treatment.
Does Suboxone Cause Withdrawal?
It is possible to withdraw from Suboxone if it’s used improperly, such as crushing or injecting it. This can cause unpleasant withdrawal due to the naloxone.
Most instances of withdrawing from Suboxone happen due to precipitated withdrawal. This happens when someone takes Suboxone before the body has fully detoxed from opioids.
How Long Does Precipitated Withdrawal Last?
Precipitated withdrawal happens rapidly and can last anywhere between a few hours and a full day.
Learn more about how long precipitated withdrawal caused by Suboxone will last.
The recommended target dosage of Suboxone tablets is 16 mg/4 mg buprenorphine/naloxone per day as a single daily dose. But this will depend on the individual patient.
What To Do If You Miss Your Dose
If you miss a dose of Suboxone, just take the medicine when you remember.
If you remember close to the time of your next dose, go ahead and skip that dose and wait to take the next dose at your regular time.
When Should I Start Taking Suboxone?
Suboxone should be taken when the signs of withdrawal are clear (such as sweating, a runny nose, or nausea). The further into withdrawal a person is, the more likely Suboxone is to work.
Suboxone Route Of Administration
For either form, Suboxone should be taken once a day by dissolving the medication under the tongue. It should take five to 10 minutes for the medication to fully dissolve.
Suboxone should never be injected. Injecting Suboxone can result in life-threatening health risks and infections.
Injecting Suboxone can result in:
- sleep problems
Administration Of Suboxone Tablets
Suboxone tablets are to be taken under the tongue and fully dissolved. Tablets should not be cut, chewed, crushed, or swallowed.
Administration Of Suboxone Strips
Suboxone films or strips are also meant to be placed under the tongue and fully dissolved. It’s best to wet the mouth by drinking water prior to placing the strip under the tongue.
Cost Of Suboxone
Suboxone can be an expensive medication, but most health insurance providers cover Suboxone costs.
Cost Of Suboxone With Insurance
Many insurance providers, including Medicaid, cover the cost of Suboxone treatment. Most patients who need Suboxone will not need to cover the cost of the medication out of pocket.
Cost Of Suboxone Without Insurance
The cost of suboxone can range from $150 to $250 for a 30-day supply of tablets or strips.
The detoxification process of Suboxone use comes at the end of a medication-assisted treatment program, or at the end of a person using the medication at home.
Suboxone detox can have some uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- nausea and vomiting
- drug cravings
- muscle aches
- hot flashes
- loss of appetite
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Suboxone treatment.
❓ Can You Get High From Suboxone?
✔️ Suboxone is an opioid drug so it is possible to get high off of it. This high is not nearly as strong as a person would get from a full opioid agonist like heroin.
❓ Does Suboxone Come In A Generic Form?
✔️ There is an FDA-approved generic form of Suboxone. The generic form is a buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual film.
❓ Is Suboxone An Opiate Or An Opioid?
✔️ Suboxone is an opioid. Opiates are naturally derived substances, and opioids contain active ingredients that are chemically produced.
❓ Can You Drink Alcohol While On Suboxone?
✔️ You should not drink alcohol while using Suboxone. Mixing alcohol and any opioid, including Suboxone, can be extremely dangerous.
Both alcohol and Suboxone are CNS depressants and can result in death if combined.
❓ Is Suboxone Free?
✔️ Suboxone is not free. There are, however, some free Suboxone clinics and financial programs that allow for a certain number of free tablets and films to be distributed.
❓ How Do I Get A Suboxone Prescription?
✔️ Suboxone prescriptions can be obtained in a few ways:
- an addiction treatment program, such as inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, or MAT
- Suboxone treatment facilities
- some specially trained psychiatrists
- some specially trained primary care doctors
❓ Can My Doctor Prescribe Suboxone?
✔️ Some primary health care providers can prescribe Suboxone, but not all can.
Your health provider must be specially trained and registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prescribe Suboxone.
Finding Treatment For Opioid Addiction
If you’d like to learn more about the use of Suboxone in treating opioid use disorders, call our helpline.
We have trained specialists who can connect you with a network of addiction treatment centers so you can get the help you need to overcome substance abuse.
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Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- The American Journal of Managed Care—FDA Approves First Generic Version of Suboxone for Opioid Dependence
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)—Buprenorphine
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)—Buprenorphine-naloxone use in pregnancy for treatment of opioid dependence
- NHS Ayrshire & Arran—Suboxone®
- Province of British Columbia—Day 1 Starting Suboxone® (buprenorphine/naloxone)
- Psychiatric Research Institute—What is Buprenorphine?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—SUBOXONE (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual tablets
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Opiate and opioid withdrawal
- VHA Pharmacy Benefits Management Services—Buprenorphine / Naloxone Buccal Film (BUNAVAIL) C-III